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STG launches Skyhigh Security from McAfee cloud assets

The new company combines the McAfee Enterprise Security Service Edge portfolio with a name reminiscent of a previous McAfee acquisition: Skyhigh Networks.

McAfee Enterprise's cloud products have been reborn as Skyhigh Security, Symphony Technology Group announced Tuesday.

McAfee announced last March that its enterprise business was acquired by private equity firm STG for $4 billion. The first company to come from this acquisition, Trellix, combined portions of McAfee and another of STG's major 2021 acquisitions, FireEye. Trellix was launched in January.

Skyhigh Security, launched today, takes elements from multiple STG companies to become a new cloud security vendor. The new company will use elements from the McAfee Enterprise Security Service Edge (SSE) portfolio, including its cloud firewall, cloud-native application protection platform, cloud access security broker, secure web gateway, zero-trust network access, cloud data loss prevention and remote browser isolation technology offerings.

"Skyhigh Security has emerged as a dedicated cloud security company that is laser-focused on propelling businesses forward with a comprehensive and converged approach to data security," said William Chisholm, managing partner at STG, in the press release announcing the company. "We're committed to investing in this business, which is in one of the most important markets in security, SSE."

Skyhigh Security appears to take its name from Skyhigh Networks, a cloud access security broker McAfee acquired in late 2017.

Although the name and launch were announced today, STG previously said in January it was rebranding McAfee's enterprise cloud business into a new company. STG also announced at that time that Gee Rittenhouse, who previously led Cisco's cybersecurity business, would be the CEO of this new company.

"With the majority of data in the cloud and users accessing it from everywhere, a new approach to security is needed," Rittenhouse said in the press release. "Skyhigh Security has created a comprehensive security platform to secure both data access and data use via unified policies and data awareness. Organizations can now have complete visibility and control and seamlessly monitor and mitigate security risks -- achieving lower associated costs, driving greater efficiencies and keeping pace with the speed of innovation."

In an email to SearchSecurity, Skyhigh vice president of worldwide systems Arnie Lopez wrote that the reason Skyhigh Security is split into its own company (as opposed to being part of Trellix) is that it can launch SSE solutions faster and be more "nimble."

"We are dedicating resources aimed at releasing new, innovative SSE capabilities at a much faster pace," he said. "By separating the businesses and being nimbler in our approach, Skyhigh Security is better positioned to lead the SSE market as we hone our focus on providing customers with the best technology, customer experience, and partnership for managing the complexities of security."

Asked about the differences McAfee customers may notice in transitioning to Skyhigh, Lopez said organizations can "continue to rely on us without disruption to their business." In addition, he argued the smaller size of Skyhigh will provide a new benefit to users: access and influence.

"Our executive team, including CEO Gee Rittenhouse, want to directly hear from customers and partners on a regular basis to inform strategy and decision making," he said. "We will accomplish this via Customer and Partner Advisory Boards (CABs, PABs) as well as via executive briefings and peering. With this, we hope our customers will experience a new level of partnership and help us define our long-term roadmap based on their top use cases and challenges today, and into the future."

He continued, "For now, customers can expect to see our new name, brand and mission and continued communication regarding our business."

The birth of Skyhigh Security is the latest step in McAfee's complicated history. After McAfee gained prominence as an antivirus vendor in the 1990s, it first went public in 1999. It then became one of the largest cybersecurity vendors in the 2000s before being acquired by Intel in 2010 for nearly $7.7 billion.

Intel rebranded McAfee as Intel Security, only to then spin off the business in 2016 via a deal with TPG Capital. After the deal, Intel Security became McAfee once again in 2017. Owned in part by Intel and TPG, the new McAfee went public in late 2020, but STG's acquisition came a few months later.

Alexander Culafi is a writer, journalist and podcaster based in Boston.

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